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My Scouting Memories – Ian Halliday

The following is an extract from an autobiography written by Ian Halliday for his family:

We thank Ian and his family for allowing us share these memories.

Scouting Memories

My earliest memories of scouting are lining up with my patrol for inspection in the halls of Newark Church in the late 1930s. My Patrol Leader was George Paton, who later became a Minister, and Neil Clark, my cousin, who was his No.2. It was a relatively large troop of seven patrols with about 7/8 boys in each. We met every Friday evening under the direction of Andrew More, the Scoutmaster, Alan Kerr, his Number 2, and several other Assistant Scoutmasters.

The evening started with ‘Fall In’, Roll Call, Inspection and then 15 minutes of Drill. This included all the usual army routines and we even had wooden staves which we learned to use in different drill manoeuvres. A variety of games was interspersed with First Aid, Knots, building Wooden Trestles for bridging, Tracking, Secret Signs and other traditional scouting activities! During the spring and autumn we were out following trails on the streets and Birkmyre Park. But best of all was football, both indoor and outdoor.

At weekends we often camped at Barmoss, a farm between Port Glasgow and Kilmacolm, transporting all our gear on Trek Carts – this was a real chore, pushing and pulling a heavy Trek-Cart up Clune Brae and onwards to Boglestone. In the summer there were camps at faraway seaside towns. As all the Officers worked locally they had to take their holidays at ‘The Fair’, the same time as we went as a family to St Andrews or Kilchatten Bay. However, one summer I was allowed to go to Summer Camp which was held that year at Arbroath.

As I grew older I rose through the ranks to become a Patrol Leader and gained my King’s Scout Badge. This was presented to me, along with about a hundred others, in 1941 by the Chief Scout at a Jamboree held at Ibrox Park, Glasgow.

Scouting remained just a memory for many years until the spring of 1953 when David Graham, a fellow member of Trinity Church (now Ardgowan Church) asked me to take over as Scoutmaster of the 59th Renfrewshire attached to the Church. The Troop had been set up in 1929 and in all that time, as far as I am aware, had only two Scoutmasters – Jack Paterson (a Master Joiner) and David Graham (a Director of Greenock Telegraph). The Troop first met in a hut built by Jack Paterson’s family firm of joiners on a site where the church halls now stand.

It was a thriving Scout Group with both a Cub Pack and Scout Troop. The Cubs met on Friday evenings from 6.30pm – 7.30pm and the Scouts from 7.30pm – 9.30pm. The Cub Pack was well staffed and in my time, had a series of excellent ‘Akelas’ including Betty Nelson (until 1953), Elinor Colquhoun (1953-56) and Marie Cameron (1956 -196 ?)

Elinor found two excellent assistants – Eleanor McGregor and Irene Stewart. The cub pack grew to such an extent that recruiting had to be controlled. Mr Colqhoun, Elinor’s father, presented new colours and these were dedicated by Rev. Arthur Allan, the Chaplain in 1955.

When I took over I was the only officer but had assistance from two other men – Dan Strachan who taught First Aid and Commander Nicol, a former R.N. Officer, who taught knots, lashings and structures such as sheer legs.

Some of the older Scouts continued as Officers during their University years making the task of running the Troop very much easier. Andrew Robb became Scoutmaster and he was succeeded by John Nicol, who, in turn, was followed by Ian McCrorie. I moved on to become Group Scoutmaster.

The Troop camped from time to time at weekends under canvas at Everton, near Inverkip, during the late Spring and Autumn. This was a permanent campsite for Greenock and District Scouts. It was a great site during a dry spell but when it was damp or rained life was intolerable due to the midge population.

During the summer of 1962 we travelled abroad for a ten day camp at Elsinore in Denmark. There were 18 in the party and we had a day in London at Scout H.Q. before travelling to Harwich where we boarded the ferry for Denmark. We stayed in a hostel just outside the walls of the castle made famous by Hamlet and had a varied routine, frequently joining with a local Danish Scout Troup who showed us their training methods and outdoor activities. We crossed to Sweden by ferry for an outing and on our last day we hired a bus to take us to Copenhagen. It was a great camp!

On the outer ferry crossing we encountered a severe gale. The boys had all enjoyed an excellent meal, many trying the Danish ‘Smorgasbord’ and raw fish dishes. When they went below to their cabins they all, but one, succumbed to sea sickness. I spent the whole night moving from one cabin to another trying to help and in the end finished up sick myself.

The return journey was a flat calm!

By 1964, with an increasing workload at school, I decided to call it a day. The Troop was left in the capable hands of Ian McCrorie.

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